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Editor’s surgery postponed; SDJW will continue publication

December 17, 2020

Other stories in today’s column include
*Viterbis’ $50 million donation helped Technion immensely
*Jewish organizations disturbed by European Court of Justice Ruling Against Kosher Slaughter of Animals
*‘Matzoball’ shatters Guinness record for speed dating
*Reuven Rivlin signs onto ‘Declaration of Our Common Destiny’

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO — As previously reported, I had been scheduled for brain surgery on Dec. 18, but on the recommendation of an anesthesiologist at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Diego, the surgery will be delayed until at least the middle of next month.  The anesthesiologist was troubled by an X-Ray showing a spot on my lower lung that suggested the possibility of pneumonia. My neurosurgeon informed me today any problem in the lungs can cause serious difficulties during an estimated six-hour surgery in which it’s necessary to insert a  breathing tube.

Accordingly, I’m waiting for a new date sometime in middle to late January, and in the interim will have new imaging done of the lungs   Given that I won’t be hospitalized during this time, I will continue at my editor’s post, bringing to you not only my own reports, but those of other members of the San Diego Jewish World team as well as relevant reports from news services and newspapers with which we exchange stories through the Nordot consortium and the San Diego Online News Association.

When a new date for the brain surgery is scheduled to remove a meningioma from the top of my brain, I will inform readers when San Diego Jewish World will be required to go on hiatus.  I’m disappointed that I can’t get this brain surgery over with right away, but, of course, the doctors’ expert advice take precedence.

So, in news of Jewish interest in San Diego, across the nation, and around the world, we offer the following stories:

Viterbi’s $50 million donation helped Technion immensely


Andrew Viterbi at Technion

When we occasionally read about mega-contributions made to universities and research centers, it’s natural to wonder how that money will be used and what difference will it make.  On the fifth anniversary of the $50 million contribution made by Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi  and his late wife Erna Viterbi of Rancho Santa Fe, California, to Technion, the Israeli university and research center decided to spell out some of the benefits accrued from that generous contribution.  A sampling includes:

–Sixteen new tenured track faculty have been hired from such universities as Cambridge, Columbia, Cornell,  Duke, Princeton Stanford, Toronto, UC Berkeley Yale, as well as the Weizmann Institute and ETH Zurich.  Among them, Prof. Shahar Kavintsky “has developed a revolutionary technology that can turn TowerJazz’s commercial flash memory components into memristors, devices that contain both memory and computing power. The technology, inspired by how the human brain functions, significantly accelerates the operation of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms,” Technion reported.  Prof. Tomer Michaeli  has been “developing a new microscope that offers scientists a 3D glimpse of cells in action at super-resolution. Dubbed DeepSTORM3D, the microscope is able to map images with a resolution ten times that achievable through standard optical microscopy — revolutionizing the field of biology.”  Both professors have won international awards for their projects.

–The student body at Technion has ballooned to 2,100 undergraduates, 105 Ph.D students, and 304 Master’s of Science students, according to the school’s report.  “In 2016, M.Sc. students Maya Barkon and Ester Hait and undergraduate student Mor Shpiggel won the Intel Award. In 2019, Shai Tsesses won the Tingye Li Innovation Prize, awarded to an early career professional who has demonstrated promise in the field of optical fiber communication. Tsesses’ work on optical skyrmions was chosen out of the thousands of applicants who submitted their paper to the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), one of the largest global conferences in optics and electro-optics. …  In 2019, Tamar Rott Shaham earned the Google Women Techmakers scholarship for her excellent academic performance, leadership, and impact on the community of women in tech.”

–In terms of infrastructure improvement, “Prof. Viterbi’s gift has also enabled the Technion to build, upgrade, and expand needed laboratories and facilities. Over 20 laboratories have been completed or are in the final stages of completion since Prof. Viterbi made his gift. Twelve classrooms have been renovated and upgraded. A new wing has been built to support young faculty members, technicians, and graduate students. In a field as dynamic and competitive as electrical and computer engineering, such additions are not cosmetic — they’re necessary to stay on the leading edge of innovation. We’re already seeing the results of these investments. For instance, in Prof. Ido Kaminer’s Laboratory for Nanoscopic Electrodynamics (updated in the 2017-2018 school year), researchers have made a dramatic breakthrough in the field of quantum science: a quantum microscope that records the flow of light, enabling the direct observation of light trapped inside a photonic crystal. … In recent months, Prof. Kaminer has been working with an international team of researchers to translate his expertise in the fight against COVID-19. The research team has found that applying UV light on the inside of ventilation systems in buildings and shared indoor spaces when not in use can quickly and effectively deactivate airborne and surface-deposited viruses like COVID-19, in a relatively cost-efficient way. Having some of the best equipment in the world at his disposal has allowed Prof. Kaminer to pivot to new, pressing challenges like the global pandemic — even as he continues his groundbreaking work in quantum science.”

According to Technion, “In just five years, one family’s generous gift has blossomed into talented faculty, promising students, and innovative new equipment and facilities — while generating reams and reams of new research and groundbreaking inventions. Prof. Viterbi’s gift has solidified the Faculty of Electrical Engineering’s position as one of the best and most accomplished in the world; it has elevated the Technion to a global force for science and technology; and it has cemented Israel as the ‘Startup Nation’ and a hotbed of innovation.”

Jewish organizations disturbed by European Court of Justice Ruling Against Kosher Slaughter of Animals

The European Court of Justice has upheld a ban in Belgium on kosher slaughter, promptly spurring criticism from Jewish organizations.

The Anti Defamation-League (ADL) commented: “Just two weeks ago, the governments of the European Union member states collectively declared their ‘permanent, shared responsibility to actively protect and support Jewish life.’ Yet today, the European Court of Justice ruled that there is no protection for the fundamental Jewish practice of shechita, kosher slaughter,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “Tolerance and protection of a safe religious practice, which may offend some, is the essence of religious freedom. Sadly, the ECJ has effectively declared that there is no room for observant Jewish people in the European Union.”  The court ruled that religious freedom is protected by the opportunity to import kosher meat from places with less regard for animals. In citing an ‘evolving societal and legislative context’ of concern for animal welfare, ‘a value to which contemporary democratic societies have attached increasing importance,’ the court implies that the Jewish practice is atavistic.  ADL will be consulting with the Jewish community in Belgium and other European countries on possible next steps.”

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of The Lawfare Project, was more pointed in her criticism.  She said, “We are appalled and disappointed by the Court’s decision to allow EU member states to persecute religious minorities by banning these sacred traditions. This is a direct violation of civil rights and will bar millions of Jews and Muslims from exercising religious freedom. The CJEU’s ruling is in direct opposition to the opinion of its own Advocate General, issued in September, which clearly articulated the importance of preserving the rights of Jews and Muslims to practice our centuries-old traditions. This shameful ruling is not representative of European democracy. No democracy can remain as such when it denies its citizens the freedom to practice their religion. The defense of religious freedom is a core pillar of The Lawfare Project’s work, and the fight against this outrageous attack on civil rights is not over. From here, the case will be remanded to the Belgian court. It is our hope that the Belgian court will rule on the right side of justice and protect the religious freedom of millions. Should the outcome be upheld, however, we will then have the opportunity to escalate the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The Lawfare Project will not sit idly and allow this injustice to stand. We will put our all into protecting the sacred practice of shechita.”

‘Matzoball’ shatters Guinness record for speed dating

Andrew Rudnick of Mazel Events, LLC,  of New York City, has announced that so far 1,154 people throughout the world have registered to participate in the “Matzoball” that will be held virtually at 6 p.m. PST on December 24 in 23 cities, including San Diego.  “We are all excited that this will be the largest and most successful speed dating event the world has ever seen. Not only can people get an opportunity to meet their soul mate, but they can also be a fun part of making this historical record,” Rudnick said.  He further explained: “The MATZOBALL Online will be broken down by region and age range. Each person who registers for the speed dating will get a minimum of 20-30, 5-minute dates. During that time, they will have the opportunity to choose whom they felt they had a connection with. When there is a mutual connection shared, the two people will be notified via email 15 minutes after the event ends.” More information is available via this website.

Reuven Rivlin signs onto ‘Declaration of Our Common Destiny’

Mikhail Fridman, co-founder of Genesis Philanthropy Group and an advocate for Jews around the world to put aside their differences, has added Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin to the list of Jews signing the “Declaration of Our Common Destiny.”  Fridman explained, “Those who sign the Declaration … sign a contract with themselves and with our people.  The contract must be fulfilled through action — a determined effort to improve our unity, to find new ways to help and contribute to each other, to learn from each other, to listen — really listen — to each other.  New ways of thinking and new forums are needed to create a true partnership between the Jewish State and the rest of the Jewish World.”  A copy of the declaration may be accessed via this link.

Donald H. Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via donald.harrison@sdjewishworld.com


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